The curriculum for Alaska’s Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) program was recently approved by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, through ANTHC’s partnership with Iḷisaġvik College in Barrow. This newly accredited degree program offers DHAT students the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree.
In addition to the two-year AAS degree, which helps create broader career pathways for DHAT graduates, Iḷisaġvik will award a DHAT certificate upon completion of the first year of study. The program will still operate out of the existing instructional sites in Anchorage and Bethel, but will now benefit from the institutional support available through Iḷisaġvik. During their course of study, DHAT students have access to the full range of student services at the Tribal college, including financial aid, scholarship resources, academic support and tutoring.
The process to accredit the DHAT program began last year when ANTHC and Iḷisaġvik staff collaborated on the project by outlining shared program goals. The partnership was formally announced at the DHAT graduation ceremony in June. DHAT students who started in July are enrolled in the first cohort of students in the Iḷisaġvik degree program.
“We are happy about this partnership with the DHAT program, as it is uniquely suited to meet health care needs of rural Alaska as well as provide access to education for students in rural communities,” said Dr. Birgit Meany, Iḷisaġvik College Dean of Academic Affairs.
DHATs make important contributions to the oral health and well-being of Alaska Native people in rural areas of our state through culturally appropriate dental education and routine dental services within the scope of their training. This model of dental care increases preventative care necessary for the reduction of cavities and other dental issues that lead to oral diseases.
Since 2004, these mid-level providers have expanded much-needed access to dental care and prevention services for more than 40,000 Alaska Native people living in 81 rural Alaska communities.
For more information about the DHAT program, visit http://anthc.org/dental-health-aide/.